Useful Photoshop Shortcuts

So there are articles on Photoshop shortcuts, but they tend to list all 600+ shortcuts and overwhelm all but the most hardcore keyboard fanatics.

So here is what I find useful working on web designs and digital photographs. The only Photoshop knowledge you need: what a layer is and what a selection is. I'm leaving off all the generic ones like cut and paste.

Generally what I do is try a bunch of keyboard shortcuts out and see which ones I actually use enough to remember. I remember some of the individual letter ones too depending on what I'm doing. These are the keyboard shortcuts that "stuck."

  1. Control-Alt-~. (you do not have to hold the Shift key down to get to it!). This selects the brightest half of the image. Great for toning down highlights a bit, or bringing out a little detail in the shadows if you Invert your selection.
  2. Control-Shift-I. Select Inverse. Makes the selection go the other way.
  3. Control-D. Deselect. Turns selection off.
  4. Control-M. Curves. This command lets you change brightness carefully if you bend it a little, or do a poor man's psychedelia if you get wacky and make the curve all hilly. I call it dropping Photoshop. nice carpet pattern, normal lookingYour soul has been pscyhedelisized
  5. h - hand tool. For dragging around when you're zoomed in
  6. z - zoom tool, aka the magnifying glass. For zooming in and out.
  7. m - marquee. Start a new selection. A selection is a marquee.
  8. f - full screen mode. Hit it multiple times to switch to different views, then back to normal.
  9. Tab - turn off the palettes - both this and "f" are great for working on big layouts or background images.
  10. Control-T for Transform. More useful for layouts than photographs.
  11. Control click on a layer to make a selection matching it. Then switching to another layer to use that selection, usually.
  12. Spacebar. This is one of the few shortcuts where you cannot use the functionality without using the keyboard. Simply put, when drawing a selection or box, while the spacebar is down, you are moving, not resizing the selection. Letting go of the spacebar returns you to the the normal resizing mode. Now that's useful.

This post occured to me because I've been working on pictures I took on a recent trip to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Not to mention the pictures of the Sandias with a cloud blanket on top of them. I plan to post some of these.

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Wednesday, January 8, 2003 (Link)


Posted by Roslee Orndorff Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 02:15 AM

Ooooooh. I'm getting a hankering to play with PhotoShop soon!!! ;-)

Posted by Shannon Friday, January 10, 2003 at 09:50 AM

Waht version of Photoshop are you using? I use version 7, and my most used shortcut is Ctrl along with + and -. It zooms in and out on the picture. You had another shortcut for this listed, but it isn't one I ever use. I think Ctrl+ and Ctrl- are pretty intuitive.

Posted by Chad Lundgren Friday, January 10, 2003 at 12:33 PM

I'm using Photoshop 7. You know, those plus and minus shortcuts I vaguely know but don't use. After I switch to the zoom tool the mouse click specifies where you want to zoom as you zoom in.

I do use Alt-click to zoom back out, now that I think of it. That one has become so automatic I don't normally think "I'm clicking Alt-Click": I think "I'm zooming back out."

(Can I tell you how annoying other Adobe product are by not using Alt-click to zoom back out? I do that automatically: that's one of the challenges to running a usability test on experienced users: not only do they go faster, they are not always even consciously aware of what they are doing.)

To me, it's not enough that a keyboard shortcut intuitive: it has to be quicker or easier, preferably both, for it to "stick" in my memory.

Hrm. Now that I was playing around with Zooming, I (re-)noticed Spacebar pulls up the hand tool while pressed. Very convenient to the Z key.

Posted by me Wednesday, March 26, 2003 at 12:39 PM

spacebar to move selection: the most useful ps tip i have ever read. Thanks!

Posted by joshua Wednesday, March 26, 2003 at 07:56 PM

Wow. That spacebar is a goodie!

Posted by Bek Tuesday, May 27, 2003 at 07:06 PM

I am studying for a Digital Imaging test and I am so thankful for this site. I can now learn all the shortcuts required. Thank you!

Posted by Jean Chicoine Wednesday, August 13, 2003 at 03:49 PM

In Photoshop7, (if you have a mouse with a wheel), you can zoom and pan with it.
Alt+wheel = zoom in&out.
Ctrl+wheel = pan left&right.
Shift+wheel = Fast pan up&down.
Just turning the wheel = Slow pan up&down.
In Photoshop6 I used to zoom in&out by turning the wheel alone.